When high school friendships fade

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It’s a sinking, cold, empty feeling in the pit of one’s stomach. Though some are lucky enough to evade this moment, for most it is an inevitability.

It’s the sad realization that the number of friends from high school you can identify and enjoy yourself with is slowly dwindling. It seems that no one has the time to get together and embark on the same old adventures anymore and when you do, you can’t enjoy each others’ company the way you once did.

It arrives at a different time for everyone. For me, it was on a sunny day in May between third and fourth year. I was driving on the highway after a weekend in my hometown having just attended my best friend’s wedding. Usually when I travelled north, I made a significant effort to reunite with old friends and hit up our favourite bars or lounge in each others’ basements for old times’ sake.

However, in the days leading up to my friend’s wedding, I had made zero effort to contact my old friends. Our get-togethers, when they actually happened, had become stale and the conversations seemed so laboured and awkward. So without even realizing it, I had travelled five hours to merely attend an event and not to catch up with the “old gang.”

Realizing that you no longer have as much in common as you used to with your old friends can make you feel conflicted. You are, after all, losing more than just a friend. When you’ve known someone for that long and grown up with them, they’ve become a part of your identity.

The reasoning behind it offers little comfort, but one simply has to face the facts: you have entirely different lives now, and you’re all maturing into adults at different rates. It’s hard to identify with someone who seems like a teenager compared to you – or someone who seems like they’re forty compared to you.

For example, when I chose to leave for a new city, I did not realize that the decision would alienate me from my many friends who chose to take the more cost-effective route and live at home while attending university locally. Our lives, however, became drastically different as a result.

While I was cooking for myself, shopping for myself, making my own mistakes and meeting a plethora of new people, my friends’ social lives remained virtually the same as they did in high school with the small difference of being legal drinking age. No, it didn’t make me better (and it certainly doesn’t make anyone inadequate for choosing to live at home), but we slowly ran out of things to talk about with each visit.

I was even making the effort to travel home less and less – seeing my family became a far bigger priority. When I realized that I had gone to town without even telling most of my friends that I was there, I knew the sad truth: it was the end of an era.

There are, however, a few very positive sides of the sad transition. Loosening my stranglehold on my high school friendships has allowed me to develop a closer relationship with my own family, whom I am now proud to call my friends.

It has also helped prove which friendships will stand the test of time. The friend whose wedding I attended is lucky to be among the small, elite group of friends whom I still contact on a regular basis and would drive through the fiercest blizzards to see. Our lasting connection has proven that we had more in common than what school we went to.

Finally, ceasing to cling to my group of high school friends has caused me to further appreciate the new friends I have made in university. There are many wonderful people who have walked into my life whom I may not have noticed if I was still fixated on holding old relationships together.

For those who are experiencing this, all is not lost. Think of this not as the death of your friendships – it is often merely a hiatus. Your emotional reunion may eventually take place, whether it’s in a year, two years or even a decade. Remember that they are probably going through the exact same thing, but you can still be happy for the exciting, fast-paced life they are now living.

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